Momentum building in effort to save Tinker Field from demolition

ORLANDO, Fla. — Momentum is now building to save Tinker Field near the Citrus Bowl after the city's recent announcement that it will demolish the historic landmark to make way for the new Orlando City soccer stadium.

Baseball greats Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson once ran the bases at Tinker Field, and Martin Luther King fired up a crowd of thousands speaking from the pitcher's mound, which is part of the reason residents were shocked to learn the field would soon be destroyed.

Mayor Buddy Dyer's chief of staff said it was back in August the mayor first learned the renovations could make the field unusable.

Dyer directed his staff to do more research and report back, but that report didn't come back until the day before the Citrus Bowl demolition began, according to Channel 9's Lori Brown.

Dyer's office did not answer WFTV's question about why he didn't tell the public sooner.

"I think it's probably a calculated move," said Aly Benitez of the Orlando Historic Preservation Board.

New plans announced last week call for the Citrus Bowl to extend into Tinker Field by 80-feet, rendering the field useless.

"Demolishing it would be a travesty," said Benitez.

The Orlando Historic Preservation Board decided to try to save Tinker Field Thursday night.Surprisingly, its status on the national register of historic places does not protect it from a bulldozer.

"We were never told about the demolition. We were never given any kind of notice," said Benitez.

Now, the board's efforts could be too late. Getting the designation could take until June, but the city's plans call to demolish the field in March or April.